Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

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  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

    • 14 Comments

    26-Sep Updated table formatting

    image

    "If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants"

    Isaac Newton 1676*

    As a Developer Evangelist, I'm often talking about the value of "the Platform" and sometimes it takes a little while for people to see that value. I like to tell a story about the evolution of a platform

    image image Imagine it's 10,000 years ago and you live in a cave up the hill to the left. Getting water is a matter of walking the 500m down to the stream, using the water and then walking home. That’s fine if it’s a beautiful day like in this picture. The next day, however, there’s a severe storm so going outside is already unpleasant. To make matters worse, a large carnivore chases you when you do venture out into the elements go to get water. Once you get there, you find that one of your neighbours has slaughtered a woolly mammoth just upstream and the water is polluted and unusable. You have to go over the next hill (5 km) just to get water.
    image image Fast forward to 4,000 years ago and you’re living in a village in the African desert. Your village has constructed a well and you maintain it collectively. You still have to go outside for water, but not nearly as far, and all of the people in the village contribute to the maintenance.  Your water supply occasionally dries up, but is much more reliable than having to go down to a stream. 
    image imageFast-forward to 150 years ago** in the city of London. You now live in a lovely house in Broad Street. Just outside your front door, the City of London has installed a pump (or, more accurately, has contracted a private company to install a pump) connected to the new-fangled plumbing. You still need to go outside for your water, but you don’t have to worry about maintaining the pump, and there are public health professionals ready to remove the handle of the pump if too many of your neighbours catch cholera.
    image imageimageFast forward to today. Now you get water plumbed into every part of your house. The question now is not "how do I get water?", rather it’s "what do I want to do with water?"  Delivery of water is now a platform on which you can build, rather than being a task on its own.
    image We've seen this platform evolution (albeit on a much shorter time scale) in pretty much everything that happens with computers. From having to write your own code to read and write bytes from a disk (or punch card, or circuit board) to letting the operating system handle it for you. From having to write your own code to paint a window on the screen to letting the framework handle it for you. From sourcing drivers for every piece of hardware to having it just work when you plug it in and so on.

    One of the questions I often get asked is whether abstracting away the details of the working of the platform makes us less connected from the source and therefore somehow less capable. There's no requirement to not understand how the platform works (just like, as a Civil Engineer, I understand water supply systems pretty well), but equally, there's no requirement to rebuild the platform every time you want to build something on top of it. Whether I'm installing an espresso machine or a hydroponics farm, I can use the water supply platform without having to drill a well, install a reverse-osmosis plant, install solar panels for power and so on.

    MPj04008460000[1]This also makes a distinction between platform and services. Pat Helland pioneered the concept of a metropolis where he described the various utilities (water supply, sewerage, electricity, roads, railway lines, ports, telecommunications infrastructure etc) as services (I haven't done Pat's work any justice at all here - go and read his paper). I'd argue that these are actually the platform on which services (schools, high-speed internet access, parcel delivery, banking, petrol stations etc) can be built. In a similar way, in the Software plus Services story both the software and the services are built on a platform (or platforms). The more common functionality the platform provides, the more time service providers can spend on the provision of the actual service. For example, pretty much every provider of any significant services in the cloud needs to have a way to authenticate and bill (or otherwise gain benefit from) users of the service. There aren't that many schemes for doing either of these things and so it makes sense to have the platform (on which the service is built) provide this functionality. By factoring out commodity platform capabilities (i.e. billing, provisioning, SLA monitoring and management, auth[n|r], messaging, CRM, monetization services etc.), the service provider is free to invest fully in an offering in their domain of expertise, without being encumbered by having to build out these concerns.  Customers are also free to pick and choose those services that make the most sense, again without having to build out (and care and feed for) commodity capability. 

    This has the related effect that the costs of these cross-cutting platform capabilities – which cost a lot to develop and maintain – can be amortised against a much larger population of users. In turn, this tends to bring the cost of the services down, which makes them more accessible to smaller organisations (i.e. further along the tail).  This is a democratising effect  - i.e. now a small software firm can afford an enterprise-grade provisioning, billing and SLA management engine, and can scale this according to their needs, and therefore potentially compete with larger players, or offer lower-cost services to customers who are also further along the tail.

    Time to value is shorter.  If a service provider can focus on their offering sans the surrounding infrastructure, they can deliver services much more quickly, and can respond to opportunities in the market more rapidly.   Related to this is the expectation that markets and offerings will evolve much more quickly than ever before.  If you aren’t tied down by infrastructural drag, you can innovate much more quickly.

    Acknowledgements

    Many thanks to Nigel Watson for his insight and additional thoughts.

    * Yes, I'm aware that Isaac probably wasn't the first person to use this phrase, but he's probably the most famous
    ** OK, OK, the picture's obviously not from 150 years ago (of course, the first one is from 10,000 years ago), but I really wanted a picture of this pump - it's because of my background in GIS

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    TechEd ANZ Call for Content Update

    • 13 Comments

    We’ve had a great response to the TechEd ANZ Call For Content we announced a couple of weeks ago. Here’s the submission count as of this morning:

    Track Breakout BoF Total
    ARC 4 0 4
    AZU 2 1 3
    DEV 25 4 29
    DYN 3 0 3
    MOB 4 0 4
    OFC 31 4 35
    SEC 2 0 2
    SOA 2 1 3
    DAT 12 1 13
    UC 7 0 7
    VIR 2 0 2
    WEB 11 1 12
    WCS 10 1 11
    Totals 115 13 128

    I’ve had a couple of questions around this and while I’ve answered them directly, I’ll also post the answers here.

    When do submissions close?

    The answer is "it depends". Track owners will close off their tracks for submissions when they feel like they’ve got enough submissions. Having said that, we’ll leave all tracks open until at least the 1st of June, so you’ve still got a week or so as a minimum.

    What’s the difference between a Breakout Session and a Birds of a Feather Session?

    A breakout session is one of the main sessions that are held during the conference. There are 9 rooms available in each of 15 time slots across the 3 days. You can expect anywhere between 20 and 1000 people at a breakout session. The content and presenters for these sessions are determined by the track owners.

    Birds of a Feather sessions are designed to be informal gatherings of like-minded people. This is a community-driven session held outside the timeslots for breakouts. It's likely that there will be perhaps as many as 10 BoF sessions and they’ll be scheduled for lunchtimes and perhaps on Wednesday evening. We're planning to make the BoF selection something that attendees can contribute to. The current proposal (subject to change, no promises etc) is to publish a list of the submissions and have people vote.

    How Many Submissions Will You Accept?

    There are only 135 slots for TechEd this year and so there are obviously going to be many more public submissions than available slots. There's no hard number we're aiming for, but please don’t be too disappointed if your session isn't selected this time. One of the things I’d love to do though is publicise the sessions that weren't selected with a view to local User Groups picking them up as presentations through the year. I won’t do that without the submitter's permission though.

    Are You Paying Presenters?

    No – there's been some confusion because the link from my original post to the rules for submitting content was a generic link that triggered some "smart" stuff server-side to determine where you were submitting from and displayed the rules appropriate to that region. A number of people got the TechEd North America rules (it explicitly said that at the top of the page) and they do have a stipend for speakers. We don't have the budget for that.

    So there's no more confusion, here are the rules for submitting content for TechEd Australia and New Zealand.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Tech.Ed Australia and New Zealand Call for Content Now Open

    • 11 Comments

    2009-05-22 Updated the link for the rules for submitting content

    Tech.Ed Australia The Tech•Ed 2009 season kicks off next week in LA, and the show comes to Australia and New Zealand in mid-September. We’ve just opened the Call for Content tool so now’s the time to submit that great idea for a session. Details about how to submit are at the bottom of this post.

    Here are the rules for submitting content and what we’ll cover/not cover if the track owners select your session(s).

    All the way through the process you’ll be able to review your submission and track its status. This is the first time we’ve opened up the Call for Content publically like this and we’re likely to receive many more proposals than we’ve got slots to fill, so please don’t be disappointed if your submission isn’t selected.

    Tips for Successful Submissions

    • Write a descriptive, fun and enticing title
    • Target 300-400 level technical content; 200 level content is in low demand
    • Describe content that is new, unique or significantly refreshed from a previous presentation.
    • Take a solution oriented approach
    • Align your topic to the technologies listed for the track
    • Ensure there is no marketing in your content
    • Showcase your speaking experience
    • Focus on currently released technologies, technologies in beta or technologies that will be released within 12 months of Tech·Ed
    • Include one or more live demos. Historically, sessions with strong demos receive higher audience scores

    By the way, Tech•Ed veteran Greg Low’s done a wonderful screencast series on presenting at large events. Well worth a look if you’re considering submitting content for any event.

    Tracks and Technologies

    There are 13 tracks at Tech•Ed this year and each one is owned by one or more local Microsoft folk. Here are the tracks, a quick abstract of what they will cover and the owner of each track. You may want to use this to guide your submission.

    Windows Client and Server

    Owners: Jeff Alexander, Philip Duff, Adam Hall and Deannah Templeton.

    The basis of any strong data centre now and for the future starts with the core operation system. The Windows Server® family of products provides you with the best solution to build your IT infrastructure for any size organization. From the Essential Server Solutions to Windows Server 2008 R2, this track shows you the solutions and set of technologies to ensure success.
    In addition, this track covers the comprehensive set of management products and solutions enabled by the Microsoft® System Center product suite as well as various Windows Management Technologies to help you gain back control of your environment. The sessions presented provide you with in-depth guidance and technical background in "Managing the Data centre" and "Managing the Desktop" while also covering the management of heterogeneous IT environments.
    Finally, the Windows Client and Server track has everything you need to know about adoption, deployment, management, and virtualization of the Windows® Desktop Environment, including a technical introduction into Windows 7 and Microsoft® Internet Explorer® 8. Come learn best practices and hear about the advancements in the Windows Client technologies which will help you manage and accelerate your desktop deployment efforts. Get real-world guidance from our industry experts via sessions that span client-side development, readying applications for your OS roll-out, deployment tools and technologies, virtualization, and much more.

    Office System

    Owners: Alistair Speirs, Ian Palangio and Paul Quirk

    The Office and SharePoint® track provides IT professionals and developers with a deep technical arsenal for the 2007 Microsoft® Office system. Come and learn from industry experts the best practices and advice on how to architect, design, deploy, and implement world-class solutions built on the Office and SharePoint platform technologies. Be prepared to learn more about the next wave of innovations while also going deep into 2007 Office system products and technologies such as SharePoint Server 2007, Office Enterprise, Open XML File Formats, InfoPath® 2007, SharePoint Designer, Project Server 2007, and SharePoint Online. As an IT professional, learn about Office server and client applications with sessions covering security, deployment, management, customization, and administration. As a developer, learn how to take your ASP.NET expertise to the fast-growing SharePoint ecosystem, how to craft the next generation of "Office Business Applications" and about the latest techniques for creating applications involving Microsoft Office, composition, collaboration, software-plus-services, VOIP, Open XML, Silverlight™, and more!

    Unified Communications

    Owners: Johann Kruse and Paul Dolley

    Microsoft unified communications technologies use the power of software to deliver complete communications-messaging, voice, and video-across the applications and devices that people use every day. The Unified Communications track strengthens your knowledge of Microsoft Unified Communications platform and technologies, including Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft® Office Communications Server 2007 R2, Microsoft Office LiveMeeting and Microsoft® Exchange Online. Explore how you can streamline your organization's communications, build presence aware applications, roll out an on-premise, hosted messaging and collaboration system, and much more!

    Web

    Owner: Michael Kordahi

    The Web and User Experience track brings you all the latest information on cutting-edge Web technologies and provides you with the latest in developing great user experiences from the Windows® desktop to mobile devices to cross-browser and cross-platform on the Web. Get the latest information on Windows Presentation Foundation, XAML, Microsoft® Expression® Studio, and Microsoft® Silverlight™, as well as all the in-depth coverage of Microsoft® Internet Information Services (IIS), ASP.NET, ASP.NET AJAX, Microsoft® Internet Explorer®, Windows Live™ Platform, and Commerce Server. Whether you are interested in taking your ASP.NET development to the next level, or finding out how you can use your .NET development skills to build rich experiences that run in the Safari browser on the Mac, the Web and User Experience track is for you.

    Developer Tools and Practices

    Owner: Dave Glover

    Your knowledge of development languages and proficiency with the tools you use to create software are the core of your skill set. The Developer Tools, Languages, and Frameworks track is packed with deep technical training that covers the best of Microsoft® Visual Studio® 2008, and the upcoming Visual Studio® 2010. Get in-depth information on building mission-critical software using Microsoft® Visual Basic® and Visual C#®. Amplify your application development impact with Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) best practices using the Visual Studio Team System. Acquire the skills that you need to make an immediate impact in your organization while preparing for future versions of Visual Studio.

    Architecture

    Owner: Nigel Watson

    The Architecture track offers sessions focused on Architecture of technology and Architecture as a practice. Elements include the architectural process of translating business vision, intent, and strategy into effective technological change in the Enterprise; addressing the skills of creating, communicating, and improving the key tenets, principles, and models that describe the Enterprise's future state and enable its transformation, evolution, or migration.

    SQL and BI

    Owner: Ron Dunn

    The Microsoft® SQL Server® data platform helps your organization manage any data, any place, any time with the security, reliability and scalability that your mission-critical applications require. The SQL and BI track offers the knowledge you need to maximize your Microsoft SQL Server investments and gain the skills needed to seamlessly run a mission-critical environment. Gain insights into future SQL Server technology investments so you can rest assured knowing the bets you make today will continue to pay off in the future.
    Now more than ever, your business needs a quick means of getting the right information to the right people so that they can make smarter, more informed decisions. Microsoft's Business Intelligence solutions enable you to do just this. The SQL and BI track also offers sessions covering how to integrate, analyse, and report on all of your corporate data easily using the Microsoft Business Intelligence platform, end-user tools, and analytics applications. Learn how to build custom, robust Business Intelligence solutions using Microsoft® SQL® Server 2005 and 2008 (Integration Services, Analysis Services and Reporting Services) and the 2007 Office system (Microsoft® Office Excel®, Excel Services and Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server technologies) and how to easily manage them.

    Security

    Owner: Rocky Heckman

    Security continues to be a major concern for almost every company in business today, and technology professionals are always looking for ways to improve and bolster their security strategies and tactics. Microsoft brings unique capabilities together to deliver comprehensive, integrated solutions across IT security, identity, access, and management. The Security, Identity, and Access track provides guidance and technical detail on Microsoft® Forefront™ products, identity-based access technologies, Windows® security technologies, and more!

    SOA and Business Process

    Owner: Graham Elliott

    Organizations of all sizes use technology to automate, manage, and improve business processes, and many are using SOA to create a more flexible set of IT assets. Designing, building, deploying, and managing these distributed applications can be difficult and complex. There are a range of capabilities, products, and technologies that you will need to understand in order to do your job effectively. The SOA and Business Processes track helps to explain these choices, give you concrete approaches to designing distributed applications particularly around loosely coupled service oriented architectures, and to show you the Microsoft products and technologies that you will use to develop and manage these systems. See products such as Microsoft® BizTalk® Server 2009, .NET LOB Adapters and the Microsoft® .NET Framework 3.5, in addition to some major new technologies that are in development and soon to be released.
    With a multitude of new tools and technologies in the middle tier, Microsoft's broad platform offering has created tremendous opportunities for you as a developer. Our experts show you products and technologies that provide successful strategies to take advantage of the platform and development tools.

    Dynamics

    Owner: Catherine Eibner

    The Microsoft Dynamics suite of products provide a comprehensive platform for developing and deploying applications and services for retailers, manufacturers, wholesale distributors, and service companies, doing business domestically or in multiple countries. With these tools in hand, people in every key position in your organization can contribute to the success of your company. Microsoft Dynamics enhances all lines of business in your organization and delivers exceptional benefits. Come and hear how to deploy enhance and leverage the base Dynamics products and integrate them with Line of Business Applications through the extensive services interfaces provided.

    Mobility

    Owner: Rick Anderson

    With the increasingly mobile nature of computing today, the Windows Mobile® track gives you the background that you need for selecting, developing for, and securely managing Windows Mobile phones. Did you know you can build for Windows Mobile with Microsoft® Visual Studio® skills you already have? Did you know that you can securely manage your mobile devices with Microsoft® System Center Mobile Device Manager? Find out this and much more in the Windows Mobile track

    Azure Services Platform

    Owner: Greg Willis

    With the new Azure Services Platform, developers can take advantage of an Internet-scale cloud services platform hosted in Microsoft data centres to build new applications in the cloud or extend existing applications quickly and easily, using a flexible and interoperable platform. The Azure Services Platform track explores Azure's cloud operating system and set of developer services, including Windows Azure, SQL Services, .NET Services, and Live Services. Sessions provide an overview of services currently in Community Technology Preview (CTP) and beta release, in addition to discussions on the future of the Azure Services Platform and the possibilities it provides for your business to reduce costs and accelerate innovation.

    Virtualisation

    Owner: Amit Pawar

    With today's IT budget constraints, virtualization enables you to maximize your current hardware investments and provide increased services. The Virtualization track covers all of Virtualization from the desktop to the data centre. Learn about Microsoft's virtualization strategy, as well as our current solutions: Windows Server® Hyper-V, Microsoft® Hyper-V™ Server, App-V, MED-V, System Center Virtual Machine Manager, and Terminal Services (Remote Desktop Services). Sessions include real-world lessons from both Microsoft and industry experts. Come learn all about the present and future of Virtualization at Microsoft.

    Submitting a topic

    So how do you go about submitting a session? Go to the Call for Content tool and register with your email address and the RSVP code TechEdANZ. Fill in all the details and hit submit. You can come back to the site at any time to update or review the progress of your submission.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    TechEd Thinking Part 3a - More Badge Fun

    • 11 Comments

    I've had some great comments on yesterday's post about the TechEd Badge. As well as his comments Rob's pinged me offline and suggested including your certification, and perhaps any user groups you belong to. What about whether you're an MCT or MVP? I can see a whole range of possibilities. What if we were to provide an area at the bottom of your badge for stickers (let's call them, oh, say, tags). Frank's might look something like this:

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Microsoft Speak

    • 11 Comments

    I've been at Microsoft for just on 6 months now and I guess that's a reasonable amount of time to have settled in and got an impression of the place from the inside. One thing that's struck me (especially having been an independent contractor for the 7 years prior to starting here) is the localised version of the language spoken here. It's not just the TLAs and the code names that I'm talking about (although there are enough of those), it's mannerisms as well. The one that I notice most often (and that I've discovered that I've subconsciously adopted) is prefixing the answer to any question with the word "So". Here's an example:

     

    Q: What's Microsoft's roadmap for the release of Visual Studio 2005?

     

    A: So, what we've announce publicly is … < answer continues here >

     

    This seems to just happen, regardless of the context of the conversation or audience, but especially when resuming an inturrupted conversation.

     

    The next idiosyncrasy we adopt is the use of the word "right" to confirm that our interlocutor agrees with the position we've put forward. This might sound like fairly standard practice, but it seems we've made it into an art form. It generally gets used either when we're not sure of the position even though we're putting it forward as gospel (as in "I know it doesn't work that way yet, but that's going to be included in beta 2, right?") or when we're so sure of the position that the conversation probably shouldn't even be happening. It seems not to be used in the middle ground situation (where the speaker knows the answer, but doesn't expect the audience to know it as well).

     

    We speak a lot about things happening in the <insert product codeword here> timeframe. I guess this one makes some sense. It's much more accurate to say that "Object Spaces will be released in the Longhorn timeframe" than to try to give a month and year. It just strikes me as interesting every time this happens (and trust me, it happens a lot).

     

    I'm not from a very corporate background (I worked at a university for 3 years before my 7 years as an independent), so I'm not sure how widespread the phrase "going forward" is (as in, "that's our plan going forward). I would guess that it's generally not uncommon, but it's endemic where I work. It seems a little more "jargony" than something like "from now on" or "in the future". It's another phrase that I notice every time it's used, and one that makes me cringe whenever I catch myself using it.

     

    Finally the phrase that I hear most often is

     

    dramatically provide access to mission-critical leadership skills and assertively coordinate world-class paradigms for 100% customer satisfaction

     

    Only kidding -- I got that one from the Dilbert Mission Statement Generator. http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/games/career/bin/ms.cgi

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    VFP 9.0 release date

    • 11 Comments

    This morning, in the OzFox keynote, Ken Levy stated that the release date for VFP 9.0 is scheduled for December 15. I'm not sure if this is new news (it didn't sound like it when Ken announced it), but it's the first time I've heard a public release date.

    If you want to be able to get your hands on VFP as soon as it's released, you'll need to be an MSDN subscriber. It usually takes about 6 weeks after RTM for the full packaged product to hit the shelves.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    VC# Express Beta2 and MapPoint WebService (oh man!)

    • 10 Comments

    I'm currently working on an article introducing C# Express edition for one of the local developer magazines and my plan was to take the ScreenSaver example that ships with the product and extend it a little. In particualr, I wanted to introduce the concept of calling web services. Instead of using a folder with images as the background for the screensaver, I wanted to pull down a map centred on an address that the user entered into the options dialog (and then verified via MapPoint's FindServiceSoap service).

    So, I added a reference to the MapPoint wsdl and away I went. Things started getting strange when I called the service. In particular, I'd get an exception:

    Server did not recognize the value of HTTP Header SOAPAction:
       http://s.mappoint.net/mappoint­-30/FindAddress. 

    Long story short, what it looks like is happenning is that the WSDL generator that generates reference.cs is not handling the fact that MapPoint has 4 services defined in the WSDL (Common, Find, Render and Route), that is to say, it's kind of recognising the fact in that it generates stubs for all of those services and their methods and data types, it just gets it wrong.

    Each of the services needs a separate URL to call the methods, but the code just seems to use the first one it finds in the WSDL (in this case, the URL for the Common service) . There's only one entry in the Settings where there should be four and the Reference.cs code only uses that one setting.

    To fix this manually, add the following settings to the Settings.Settings (You'll obviously need to change ScreenSaver1 to the name of your project, or call it whatever you want, as long as you reference it correctly in Reference.cs)

    Name Type Scope Value
    ScreenSaver1_net_mappoint_staging_FindService (Web Service URL) Application http://findv3.staging.mappoint.net/Find-30/FindService.asmx
    ScreenSaver1_net_mappoint_staging_RouteService (Web Service URL) Application http://routev3.staging.mappoint.net/Route-30/RouteService.asmx
    ScreenSaver1_net_mappoint_staging_RenderService (Web Service URL) Application http://renderv3.staging.mappoint.net/Render-30/RenderService.asmx

    Now open up Reference.cs (easiest way to do this is to right-click on one of the web service objects and choose Go To Definition) and fix the settings for each of the 3 services

    public RenderServiceSoap() {
       this.Url = ScreenSaver1.Properties.Settings.Default.ScreenSaver1_net_mappoint_staging_CommonService;

    becomes

    public RenderServiceSoap() {
       this.Url = ScreenSaver1.Properties.Settings.Default.ScreenSaver1_net_mappoint_staging_RenderService;
    public RouteServiceSoap() {
       this.Url = ScreenSaver1.Properties.Settings.Default.ScreenSaver1_net_mappoint_staging_CommonService;

    becomes

    public RouteServiceSoap() {
       this.Url = ScreenSaver1.Properties.Settings.Default.ScreenSaver1_net_mappoint_staging_RouteService;

    and

    public FindServiceSoap() {
       this.Url = ScreenSaver1.Properties.Settings.Default.ScreenSaver1_net_mappoint_staging_CommonService;

    becomes

    public FindServiceSoap() {
       this.Url = ScreenSaver1.Properties.Settings.Default.ScreenSaver1_net_mappoint_staging_FindService;

    I'm sure this will be fixed during the Beta process.

    Hope this helps some folk.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Virtual Earth - Now available for Commercial Use

    • 10 Comments

    Steve Lombardi’s VE Session has just finished and contained some cool announcements.

    Now available for commercial use.

    First and foremost, VE is now available for commercial use. The nitty-gritty details are available from the virtual earth developer site (www.viavirtualearth.com) but, in essence, if you leave the What and Where fields visible, you can use the control provided for a commercial site for free. In Jan 2006, there will be an option to pay for use and remove those controls.

    Steve’s working on a demo site for this technology called www.MyFavouritePlaceOnEarth.com – catchy huh? It’s not live yet, but when it is, it’ll allow you to mark a spot anywhere on the earth (or, more accurately at the moment, anywhere in the continental US) as a “significant site” and decorate it with the metadata to say why.

    More info on current features

    Steve explained how the Locate Me feature works. It finds all of the WiFi hot spots it can (whether or not it can connect to them) and their signal strength. It looks up their MAC address on a database they have server-side and does a triangulation to work out your location to within “50 to 100 feet”.

    There was another feature of the current release that I hadn’t twigged to – the ability to email or blog from your scratch pad. Check it out. It’s pretty neat.

    Beta 2 – Coming Soon

    I mentioned above that the data are only available for the US. This one of the things that will be remedied in the next release (called beta 2 and due out “this fall”). The new features of VE in this release that Steve disclosed today are:

    • Eagle Eye image view – photos taken from fairly low altitude at a 45° angle (as opposed to the 90° that the imagery currently uses). This makes for a really neat perspective view.
    • User pushpins and collections
    • Improved aerial and satellite imagery (of the 90° kind)
    • Driving directions
    • New content types – Traffic, Movies etc
    • Mobile – send to phone. This looks like you’ll be able to send details of a location or locations to your mobile (or someone else’s). Imagine being able to send a “meet me here …” SMS.
    • The big one (for me) is the geographic expansion – currently planned to be England and perhaps some more of Europe. More and more data will come on line as the team source and massage the data.

     VE and MapPoint Web Services – better together

    Today, VE and MWS are a great team (geolocate and address with the MWS API and chuck it up on VE, for example). In January, it will be even easier to combine their strengths as they will pretty much be merging around the time of MWS 4.0.

    Useful Sites

    www.virtualearth.com

    www.viavirtualearth.com – check out the gallery of VE applications

    http://www.viavirtualearth.com/MyVirtualEarth/MapControlTest.html – this is a testbed where you can play with the whole VE API. Well worth a look.

     

     PDC2005

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Wow, Now I'm MCPD!

    • 10 Comments

    Call me unusual, but I like doing the MS Certification exams. First, some history.

    MCP LogoMy first exam was way back in 1999, when I participated in the beta program for the (then) new Visual FoxPro exams, 70-155 (Designing and Implementing Distributed Applications with Microsoft® Visual FoxPro® 6.0) and 70-156 (Designing and Implementing Desktop Applications with Microsoft® Visual FoxPro® 6.0). These were awarded when the beta program for those exams finished on 09 Feb 2000. All of a sudden I was an MCP.

    MCSD LogoI was hooked. Soon afterwards I followed up with the compulsory 70-100 (Analyzing Requirements and Defining Solution Architectures) and the optional 70-029 (Designing and Implementing Databases with Microsoft® SQL Server 7.0) exams and by April 12 that year I was an MCSD (although not MCSD.NET - this was in the Win32 timeframe).

    I haven't hyperlinked any of the exams above, because they've since been retired and are no longer listed on the MCP exam site. Some time passed after this as I hadn't moved to .NET (I was still working a lot with VFP), and there were no new exams that seemed relevant.

    That changed in 2004 when I accepted this role at MS, and in August 2005 I passed my first .NET exam: 70-305 (Developing and Implementing Web Applications with Microsoft® Visual Basic® .NET and Microsoft® Visual Studio® .NET). I sat the exam at our internal technical conference, TechReady and I found that sitting exams at a conference made a lot of sense. It was time that was already out of band for me, I was half-way across the world, immersed in the technology and I wasn't likely to get distracted by the day-to-day events that seem to sap your time for doing "optional" things.

    The next year (2006) at TechReady, I really went for it. I sat and passed 4 exams in a week (in chronological order) - 70-431 (TS: Microsoft® SQL Server™ 2005 - Implementation and Maintenance), the foundation 70-536 (TS: Microsoft® .NET Framework 2.0 - Application Development Foundation), 70-528 (TS: Microsoft® .NET Framework 2.0 - Web-based Client Development) and 70-526 (TS: Microsoft® .NET Framework 2.0 - Windows®-based Client Development). This gave me a new certification in the new generation of certifications. I was now a MCTS three times over (2 in .NET and one in SQL 2005).

    This year I took the same approach. I sat and passed another 4 exams in a week: one TS; 70-529 (TS: Microsoft® .NET Framework 2.0 - Distributed Application Development) and three PRO; 70-547 (PRO: Designing and Developing Web-based Applications by Using the Microsoft® .NET Framework), 70-548 (PRO: Designing and Developing Windows®-based Applications by Using the Microsoft® .NET Framework) and 70-549 (PRO: Designing and Developing Enterprise Applications by Using the Microsoft® .NET Framework). This gave me an additional MCTS (.Net Framework 2.0: Distributed Applications) and also certified me as a MCPD three times over (Web Developer, Windows Developer and Enterprise Application Developer)

    My impression of the certification program and the exams is very positive. Each time I study for and sit an exam I feel that I learn more and more about the breadth and capability of the product or technology I'm studying. Being forced to explore all of the parts means that I discover areas I may never have come across day-to-day, but that prove useful as I go about my job. It also helps me build an overall picture of (in this case) the framework and how its parts fit together. Finally, it gives me a tangible set of achievements to which I can point my manager (or a potential employer). Having passed these exams demonstrates a base level of knowledge and at least some interest in furthering my understanding of the tools I'm using. Note that I'm not saying that this is the only way to further one's understanding, indeed it's not the only way I use, but it is something that is easily demonstrated. I only need to point interested parties at the Transcript Sharing Page and tell them to use TranscriptID 735419 and Access Code AndrewCoates.

    If you've got to the end of this rather long post and you want more information about Microsoft Certifications, there's the official site, but you can do a lot worse than to subscribe to Trika Harms zum Spreckel's entertaining blog (although, if you get a chance to meet Trika in person as I just have at TechEd, you won't be at all surprised that her blog is so entertaining). Local MVP and certification junkie Rob Farley also often posts great information.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    *Tweet* - change editors!

    • 10 Comments

    It's that time again, our current TechTalkBlogs editors Bronwen, Lorraine and Elaine have been going now for exactly 2 months and focused their posts generally on TechEd. I'm not so sure that Frank's characterization of them is entirely accurate, but they definitely did a super job.

    Some posting stats from their time at the wheel:

      Total Posts Total Comments on Posts
    Bronwen 27 29
    Lorraine 10 9
    Elaine 7 17

    Thanks guys.

    So the big question is, who's next? I'll announce the next editors in a future post, but in the mean time, here are some hints:

    • There are three of them
    • Two of them are not from 'round here, but the third definitely is.
    • Community-minded doesn't even begin to describe these three.
    • I'm sure you can guess one - it'll be a breeze!
    • Think about the other half of D2
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